Ballet academy

The Houston Ballet Academy has a new director

Expect Houston Ballet Academy’s already strong international profile to take another step up when new director Madeleine Onne arrives next summer.

Onne brings decades of experience as a performer and leader to the 61-year-old academy, which trains more than 1,000 students each year.

She was principal dancer of the Royal Swedish Ballet from 1984 to 2002, then occupied for six years the artistic direction of this company. A native of Stockholm, Onne is one of only five women to have been awarded the title of “Swedish Royal Court Dancer” by HRH King Carl XVI Gustaf.

She is currently Artistic Director of Hong Kong Ballet, which has undertaken 12 tours of China, Japan, and North and South America during her tenure. Onne has also commissioned new ballets for the Hong Kong Ballet and greatly expanded her repertoire, working with leading choreographers such as Alexei Ratmansky, Nacho Duato, Fei Bo, Nils Christie, Krzysztof Pastor and Christian Spuck.

Her experience bodes well for Houston Ballet II, the junior company chosen from among the academy’s top students. HBII, as it is popularly known, maintains a busy touring schedule and has its own repertoire of dances, some of which are commissioned.

Houston Ballet artistic director Stanton Welch said Onne will bring “an exciting new perspective” to the organization and its academy.

“I can’t think of anyone better to continue the Academy’s high level of educational and artistic excellence,” he said. “Our students will greatly benefit from his advice and guidance.”

Students from all over the world attend the school, especially during its summer sessions. The older ones hope to get a leg up in Houston Ballet, but getting to that level is still extremely competitive.

Recent student star Madison Young, who placed second in Switzerland’s prestigious Prix de Lausanne competition this year, will appear as an apprentice with Houston Ballet during the 2016-17 season.

Onne replaces Shelly Power, who leaves to become artistic director and CEO of the organization of the Prix de Lausanne.

“The positive and educational atmosphere that Stanton and his team have created makes it clear that Houston Ballet is my new home,” Onne said.